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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Testimony Directly Linking Trump to Ukraine Pressure; White House: President Trump "Jubilant" After Today's Public Hearing; President Trump's Ex-Russia Adviser On Ambassador Sondland: He Was Involved In A "Domestic Political Errand" In Ukraine; Diplomat: Sondland Told Me Trump Cared More About Biden Investigations That Ukraine; Hill Rebukes GOP For Believing "Fictional Narrative" That Ukraine, Not Russia, Interfered In 2016 Elections; Exclusive: Former FBI Official Under Criminal Investigation After Allegedly Altering Document In 2016 Russia Probe. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 21, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin tonight at the end, the end for now of House impeachment testimony in the Intelligence Committee. House Judiciary takes it up after the Thanksgiving break, and safe to say what we've heard already gives them plenty to work with, not to mention quite a few leads and witnesses to pursue. One of the witnesses today was himself a new lead, a late addition, David Holmes, political affairs counselor at the U.S. embassy in Kiev.
But the star was Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia of the National Security Council. Her attorney joins us exclusively in just a moment.
Dr. Hill had a front row view from inside the White House as portions of the country's foreign policy and national security institutions were used or co-opted into serving what she says she recognized to be the president's personal political agenda. Here is how she describes Ambassador Sondland's role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIONA HILL, FORMER NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE AND RUSSIA: He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged. So he was correct. And I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him, and angry with him that he wasn't fully coordinating. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up. And here we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And here we are. Domestic errand she called it. Her boss, National Security Adviser John Bolton, knew about it.
Ambassador Sondland has already testified that he kept Bolton in the loop, along with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice President Pence and others who have yet to testify or who are being prevented from talking.
She confirmed today that Ambassador Bolton did in fact call what was happening a drug deal and he did heap scorn upon the president's point man, alleged bagman and private attorney Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-AL): What do you think he meant by his characterization of Giuliani as a hand grenade?
HILL: What he meant by this is pretty clear to me in the context of all of the statements that Mr. Giuliani was making publicly about the investigations that he was promoting, that the story line he was promoting, the narrative of -- that he was promoting was going backfire. I think it has backfired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, Dr. Hill and David Holmes also cast doubt on the claims of two participants that they didn't know until late in the game that the president's demand, Ukraine investigate the company Burisma, meant investigating the Bidens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR HOUSE DEMOCRATS: Ambassadors Volker and Sondland have tried to draw a distinction between their understanding of the connection between Burisma and the Bidens. But, Dr. Hill, was it apparent to you that when President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, or anyone else was pushing for an investigation into Burisma, that the reason why they wanted that investigation related to what President Trump said here, the Bidens?
HILL: It was very apparent to me that that was what Rudy Giuliani intended, yes, intended to convey that Burisma was linked to the Bidens, and he said this publicly, repeatedly.
GOLDMAN: And, Mr. Holmes, you also understood that Burisma was code for Bidens?
DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSAY IN UKRAINE: Yes.
GOLDMAN: And you think that anyone in Ukraine matters in the spring and summer would understand that as well?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So after today, Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland could have some explaining to do. As for Republican efforts, including the president to highlight what they say is the true scandal -- which, by the way, the U.S. intelligence community has already debunked -- Dr. Hill was having none of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary and the Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016. I think, you know, what we're seeing here as a result of all of these narratives, this is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As for David Holmes, he recounted the phone call that he overheard portions of. Ambassador Sondland speaking on a cell phone at a table in a restaurant in Kiev to the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Ambassador Sondland replied yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky, quote, loves your ass. I then heard President Trump ask, so he is going to do the investigation? Ambassador Sondland replied that he's going do it, adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, it's the president who claims there was no quid pro quo asking one of his lieutenants about the effort to obtain the quo the day after he had on the phone asked the Ukrainian president for the two investigations.
And just to be clear, to Holmes, this was Mr. Trump's priority, not corruption in Ukraine. Here's what Holmes told a committee about what he was told after the call ended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not give an expletive about Ukraine. I asked why not. Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about big stuff.
I noted there was big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: An ongoing war with Russia was not big stuff of interest to the president, according to his supporter, Ambassador Sondland. Ukrainians dying -- fighting and dying to stop an invasion by Russia, that wasn't big stuff. Biden was.
Summing up the past two weeks of testimony, the narrative for Republicans and Democrats are clear and completely contradictory.
Here is how ranking Republican Devin Nunes summed up the last two weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): You've seen in this room over the past few weeks is a show trial. The planned result of three years of political operations and dirty tricks, campaigns waged against this president. And like any good show trial, the verdict was decided before the trial ever began. The spectacle with its secret depositions and mid hearing press conferences is not meant to discover the facts. It was designed to produce a specific story line to be pushed forward by the Democrats and their supporters in the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, sees it very differently. Here he is talking about Ukraine's president and then Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This president, this new president who is negotiating with a far superior power that has invaded his country is going to negotiation with Putin over how to resolve this conflict. Whether he has good leverage or lousy leverage depends on whether the Russians think he has a relationship with the president. And the president wouldn't give him that, not without getting something in return, wouldn't give him that official act, that White House meeting without getting something in return.
And that return was investigations of his rival that would help his reelection, an official act for something of clear value and something very important, the big stuff as Sondland explained to Mr. Holmes. What we're talking about here is the withholding of recognition in that White House meeting, the withholding of military aid to an ally at war. That is beyond anything Nixon did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining now, Fiona Hill's attorney, Ambassador Lee Wolosky.
Lee, thanks so much for being with us.
How does Dr. Hill think today went for her? Does she feel like she was able to communicate what she wanted to the committee?
AMBASSADOR LEE WOLOSKY, ATTORNEY FOR FIONA HILL: Well, all she really wanted to do, as she said in her opening statement, is to testify to what she saw and what she knew and to help guide the committee toward the truth. And in that respect as a fact witness, I think she achieved her objective. COOPER: The phrase that she used to describe Sondland's mission, a
domestic political errand, a lot of people have said that was a big takeaway from today, that it sort of encapsulated what was going on here. Does she agree?
WOLOSKY: Well, yes. As she testified to, I think that what -- what she began to notice is that, in fact, this really wasn't an irregular or shadow foreign policy effort, as some people have called it. It was actually domestic politics.
She was doing national security, as were others and foreign policy, and Sondland and Giuliani were taking steps to advance the political interests of the president. And I think that what she crystallized is how pernicious it can be when our national security and when our foreign policy decision making is basically co-opted or held hostage to the individual political interests of one individual.
COOPER: I mean, it's so interesting because Dr. Hill saw it. It seems like John Bolton saw it, because he described it as a drug deal, and Dr. Hill testified to that today. And yet you had Ambassador Sondland, who admittedly has no experience in any of these matters but is for somehow -- for some reason by the president inserted into the midst of it, even though it's not in his portfolio, and Ambassador Volker, who certainly has been around the diplomatic block for a very long time, they claim they didn't see that until much, much later.
WOLOSKY: Well, they weren't in foreign policy. I mean, there's a -- there is a long bilateral agenda with the Ukrainians that Dr. Hill went through today a little bit of all the issues that we typically go through with the Ukrainians when we are trying to advance our interests and values in Ukraine.
And they didn't do any of that. They were there I think to be -- I think Solomon said he was deal maker. What they were there to do was to do a deal. It didn't really have to do -- I think she explained today -- with advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives. It had to do with a political errand.
COOPER: In fact, Sondland testified that it didn't even matter if they actually followed through on the investigations.
They just had to announce that they were doing the investigations, which is incredibly telling.
Dr. Hill began her testimony with a full-throated rebuttal of what she called the fictional narrative pushed by President Trump and his allies that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia. I'm wondering about her decision to do that, knowing full well it would make her a target. I mean, she said that out of the gate.
WOLOSKY: Well, I mean, I think it's clear -- she's there to tell the truth. She is a remarkable woman who, in addition to being her lawyer, I've actually known for almost 30 years. She grew up in the north of England in poverty. Her father and her
father's family were coal miners. Her mother's family actually worked in the sewers of Northern England. And she -- she worked very hard, obviously. She won a scholarship to Harvard, got her PhD there.
And then she did something that she said would never have been possible for a working class young woman from northern England in the U.K. of the 1980s and '90s, which is she went on to become our country's foremost expert on Vladimir Putin, the Russ -- and sort of Russian security services, and she's now served three presidents.
And what she said is that that is what makes America great, the ability to take these people who are Americans by choice, to take them in and to put them to productive use in service of our country's core interests. She also said that Alex Vindman has a similar background and, of course, Masha Yovanovitch does as well.
COOPER: Republicans on the committee -- I mean, they acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but they also did it with a caveat that it could also have been Ukraine. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, tonight rejected her testimony, saying that he thinks Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.
It seems like, you know, this idea, this conspiracy theory has really been fully embraced by many of these Republicans.
WOLOSKY: Well, Dr. Hill, her testimony was very factual. She is interested in the facts, and explaining the facts. I think she pointed out effectively really, there's no compelling evidence that the Ukrainian government launched a top-down effort to interfere in our elections as indisputably a case as the Russians did in 2016.
She went through a news -- a "Politico" article that was used in her deposition to support the proposition that perhaps the Ukrainians did interfere in our elections and not the Russians. And it turns out that article doesn't really support what has been held out as supporting.
And she pointed out a very good point that it actually is a product of the Russian intelligence services and Russian influence campaign to divert attention to the real perpetrators of election interference 2016, which is the Russians. Of course, the Russians want to deflect attention to another actor, but the fact is there's no evidence really to support that, no evidence at all.
COOPER: It's always interesting in these hearings to watch how the people are asking questions respond to a witness, and Dr. Hill clearly was very strong on the witness stand in giving her testimony. It seemed to me that as the hearing progressed, a number of Republicans simply stopped asking her questions, instead just delivering kind of long speeches hardly even addressing her.
You know, I mean, why do you think that was? Was she not adhering to the narrative that they wanted her to or?
WOLOSKY: You know, as I said, and as she said, she -- she was there to answer their questions. I think she did that. She, you know, answered some questions to the satisfaction of the Republicans, some questions to the satisfaction of the Democrats.
But her objective was not to advance this impeachment inquiry in any particular direction except toward the truth.
COOPER: The -- it was clear that Dr. Hill had been watching other witnesses testify. I wonder what else she did to prep for the hearing, and as her attorney, how you feel it all went, based on what you kind of expected versus what actually ended up happening?
WOLOSKY: Well, again, our goal was really to do our legal obligation, fulfill our moral obligation to provide the information that she was a fact witness to the Congress, and that's -- that's what she did. She obviously spent a considerable amount of time about the issues underlying the inquiry, and she obviously read her deposition transcript.
But, you know, beyond that, I'd say, you know, she just -- she just really went in to try to answer the questions that were posed to her and to help the Congress with the very difficult decision that it needs to make.
COOPER: Rudy Giuliani just a short time ago responded to Dr. Hill's testimony saying, quote: Their issue is their disagreement with our president. I had no policy. I as investigating crimes committed in Ukraine to defend my client. She and her compatriots did nothing to expose this corruption or to defend our president.
WOLOSKY: Well, her job was to advance the national security interests of the United States. She made clear in response to questions that not only is she not a Never Trumper, but she went back into the government to serve under the third U.S. president that she has now served under in order to advance the president's stated goal of helping to improve the relationship with Russia, which she felt needed to be stabilized, all the while countering Russia's threats to our -- to our security and interests.
But her job was to promote the national security of the United States. It wasn't to meddle into -- into domestic politics.
COOPER: Ambassador Lee Wolosky, it's been a long day for you as well. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
WOLOSKY: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next, late reaction from the White House, the final testimony, where it leaves the president.
Later, how one prominent Democrat on the Intelligence Committee sees it. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney joins us, ahead.
COOPER: President Trump will now have impeachment hearings to react to at least for the next several weeks until the House Judiciary Committee takes up the issue after the thanksgiving recess.
I wanted to look at how he and the White House have been reacting to the last two weeks of what would seem to be damaging testimony. We turn to CNN's Jim Acosta -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the testimony this week certainly was damaging, even devastating at times. But the White House, according to officials I've spoken to this evening, they do not believe over here that enough evidence has been presented at this point that will lead to the president being convicted and removed from office over in the Senate.
Yes, they believe the president will likely be impeached in the House and that this will go over to the Senate for a trial.
But, Anderson, get this -- officials that we're talking to over at the White House, they actually believe a Senate trial could work to the president's favor, because presumably, Republicans could start bringing in their own witnesses. There is even talk over here at the White House of calling Hunter Biden, the whistle-blower, Adam Schiff to testify.
And so, the Republicans sound like they're looking to create a circus of their own over in the senate.
COOPER: The president weighed in this morning trying to cast doubt on Holmes' testimony on Twitter. What did he have to say?
ACOSTA: That's right. The president tweeted earlier this morning that he's never heard of a phone call that's not put on speakerphone where people could overhear it. He said he's tried it himself and it doesn't work.
That's sort of a talking point without really a point to it. David Holmes testified earlier today that he did overhear Ambassador Sondland talking on the phone with the president and he overheard the president. Anderson, as we reported last week, there were officials over here at the White House who were upset with Gordon Sondland for allowing other people in the room at that restaurant to overhear that conversation.
So that's really not being disputed at this point.
COOPER: Right. I mean, the fact that Gordon Sondland made a phone call to the president not only in a restaurant, but in front of other people -- I mean, you kind of only do that when you're kind of showing off, I assume that may have played a role in Gordon Sondland.
ACOSTA: That's right.
COOPER: --not that he is the sort of person to want to do that.
ACOSTA: That's right.
COOPER: I understand there are active discussions between the White House and the Republicans in the Senate about what the impeachment trial may look like.
ACOSTA: That's right. And we should point out there were a couple of meetings over here at the White House with groups of GOP senators. The president had lunch with a group of Republican senators, including Mitt Romney where he was wooing some of these senators. Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine was in that lunch with the president. He was hearing her out on issues with the lobster industry up in Maine.
So he is doing a lot of wooing of these Republicans right now that some in the GOP are concerned may stray if a Senate trial takes place.
Now, there was another separate group of Republican senators like Tom Cotton, John Kennedy and so on meeting with the White House counsel's office. They were talking about what the Senate trial might look like. As I said, the Republicans are looking at perhaps calling their own witnesses, and they're going as far as bringing in Hunter Biden and that sort of thing.
Anderson, that trial may only take a couple of weeks to wrap up from what we're hearing at this point. But the timing is fluid, like everything else with this impeachment inquiry.
COOPER: Yes. Jim Acosta, Jim, thanks very much.
Joining us now, our legal and political team -- John Dean, David Gergen, Nia-Malika Henderson, Jeffrey Toobin, Kirsten Powers, and Scott Jennings.
Jeff, there was clearly reason that the Democrats saved Fiona Hill for the last witness.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: If you have a Helen Mirren badass, you put her at the end. It was -- and just an extraordinary performance. I mean, and also, just as a citizen, I think you had to feel good about the public servants who work for the United States in anonymity throughout this. The Foreign Service officers, the people who -- these were incredibly. And --
COOPER: An impressive bunch. By the way, that Foreign Service exam is hard. Very hard.
TOOBIN: We don't want to talk about your CIA history. Ooh, sorry.
COOPER: The interns. I was a waiter too. No one talks about that.
TOOBIN: But, you know, the facts are not in dispute here. I mean, what the Democrats did over these two weeks was to show overwhelmingly, completely, thoroughly that what happened here was the president of the United States said to his staff, I have one priority with Ukraine and it has nothing to do with the national interests of the United States. [20:25:07]
It is that I want information about this 2016 fantasy about the server, and I want dirt on Biden. I don't even want a real investigation of Biden. I just want an announcement of investigation of Biden. There is no doubt that that happened. There is no doubt after watching this.
Now, what the political implications of it are beats the hell out of me. Certainly doesn't look like the president is getting thrown out of office. But as for what happened, I don't think there is any doubt.
COOPER: And, Kirsten, yet, Sondland and Ambassador Volker are still testifying that they didn't understand the connection between Burisma and Biden.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, that seems implausible and Fiona Hill seems to think it's implausible.
COOPER: She and Holmes were both.
POWERS: Yes, it doesn't seem likely. I don't know -- I don't know why they're saying that maybe they don't want to cop to what they were involved in, I guess.
But I agree. You have at least five people who have testified that the Ukrainians knew exactly what was going on by my count, right? So that was one of the key arguments that was made by the Republicans was, you know, there was no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians didn't even know anything was happening, yet we have all of these people coming up saying they were quite panic about it, you know, that President Zelensky didn't want to be used as a pawn, for example in some sort of domestic political dispute, that emails were coming in from the Ukraine to the State Department or the defense department asking what's going on, you know, with the aid.
I mean, all of these different examples and Fiona Hill also talking about the fact that she had to shut down a conversation and go and report it to Bolton who says go to the lawyers. So, we have so many examples of the fact that the Ukrainians were actually quite panicked about this.
And so how did the Republicans defend this? I guess that's what I want to know.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think most of the -- thank you, by the way. I think most of the Republicans are probably going to land maybe a lot, I don't know if most, they're going to land where Will Hurd did. I don't know if you saw Will Hurd's speech in committee today. He expressed some concerns about what he heard but he also say he didn't hear, you know, to throw a president out it has to be clear and compelling. I think there is enough questions that we don't have it.
So, my presumption, to borrow a word from this week is that's where a lot of Republicans are going to land. And I would just say for the Democrats here, they've gone through with what they wanted to do. They're going to -- clearly, they're going to impeach the president. But you may be careful what you wish for, because when this thing gets over to the Senate and they start calling witnesses you don't like, and the outcome is all but certain, what is the president going to do?
He is going to run around and say see? Here we go. I'm exonerated. I'm exonerated. Everyone is going to say you're not exactly exonerated, but he'll say he is exonerated, he'll say, cleared again.
And there is a potential for this politically backfiring, which is why I think you're seeing the White House react the way they are tonight.
COOPER: Do you see that danger?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I don't think we know, right? We're at a point at this point. There is more to go, obviously in the Senate, and I think you've heard Republicans with this talking point all along that this is somehow going to embolden the president's base. The president's base is already pretty emboldened, and likely embolden Democrats as well. Who knows what it will do with independents? Probably split them in two.
I think if you're Adam Schiff, you were pushed to the point because you want to draw a line in the sand for this president and future presidents to say that you can't lean on a foreign power to meddle in a domestic election. That is the point of this. I think if you're a Democrat, you full well know.
You've seen Republicans up close over these last three years. They will find any excuse to back this president. Somebody like Will Hurd who I think some people see as the Susan Collins of the House in some ways and expect that somehow he is going to break with the president, he voted against this inquiry because he said it was coming along too soon, OK. I guess that's an excuse.
So I think we don't really know what the politics are about.
COOPER: You talked about Adam Schiff. I just want the play part of his closing statement this evening, because he pushed back on Republican claims that much of the witness testimony has been hearsay. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: That would be like saying you can't rely on the testimony of the burglars during Watergate because it's only hearsay, or you can't consider the fact that they tried to break in because they got caught. They actually didn't get what they came for so, you know, no harm, no foul.
That's absurd. The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump. It's the difference between that Congress and this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: David and John, you both were there for that. David, did Republicans have more kind of freedom to make a decision in Watergate?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They are (INAUDIBLE). I think --
COOPER: More independence, I should say.
GERGEN: The evidence there was compelling as well, especially when the tapes came out. I mean, it was all over (INAUDIBLE) by that time.
But I do think here that Jeffrey was right, the Democrats have done a very good job amassing the evidence and made a compelling case that the President and his team, because so many were involved, did something that was very wrong and inappropriate.
I also think that we had a chance to see just how blessed we are with the quality of the people in the foreign service, why it's all the more concerning now than the application rates for the foreign service are down by 50 percent. That really -- you know, we're going to pay a price for what we're going through that now.
Having said all that, I must tell you, I don't see a surge in the country toward throwing this guy out of office. I think a lot of people are going to conclude he did something wrong. This is a very complicated case to present on television. The Republicans, you know, blocked the star witnesses from coming forward. The obstruction that they engaged in, which is massive, has worked on their behalf.
And, you know, it's just not a priority of the country. The Morning Consult had a poll the last couple of days saying what are your top priorities? Let's say at 10 party, what are your top priorities for the country? The impeachment was number 10 in terms of priorities. And I think that's speaks volumes about where we are now.
I don't know whether the Democrats can turn this around. I don't -- I think at this point the chances are the President's going to come out of this hurt but not damaged terribly, and it's going to definitely be up to the voters.
COOPER: And, you know, John Dean -- I mean, I think you've said, and correct me if I'm wrong, that this is bigger than what Nixon did.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: As Adam Schiff was making the point in both the clips you showed that what he had uncovered he felt was worse than Watergate. I agree with him. I think it was.
COOPER: In what way?
DEAN: It's national security and is not a domestic policy issue. It is not a bungled burglary that you cover up. It is not an internal White House sponsored burglary you're covering up. That overriding problem creates a huge difference to me. But also, I was frankly surprised that Nixon resigned. He did have information to fight. He didn't know it, unfortunately. He didn't mind all the tapes and didn't have that information. Today, you can assemble a very strong argument that he could have survived.
GERGER: That's amazing to hear you say that.
DEAN: Well, no one's ever asked me.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We'll have more ahead. Just ahead, we're also going to ask the -- a member of the intelligence committee, Sean Patrick Maloney, for his thoughts now that the second week of public testimony has wrapped up.
COOPER: Today's impeachment hearing ended with some of the most powerful testimony in what's been two weeks of memorable moments. My next guest was a big part of all of it, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. He's a Democrat on the intelligence committee. Thanks for being with us. First of all, your takeaways from today with Fiona Hill and David Holmes, what stood out to you?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Two of the more incredibly impressive public servants. Look at Dr. Hill's story, you know. I mean, the daughter of coal miners comes to this country believing in its promise says my working class accent never got in the way, and look at her success. And she knew right from wrong. And she went and reported what she saw, and boy, she demonstrated clarity and courage today.
And David Holmes, same thing, that's a guy who understood what his duty was, stepped forward and said have I the direct evidence people are complaining is missing, and I'm going to come give it.
And of course, they come on the heels of people like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Ambassador Yovanovitch and Bill Taylor, military heroes, distinguished members of the Foreign Service, all telling a story at risk to their own professional careers. It was an extraordinary week, and we're grateful to all of them.
COOPER: I want to play something actually that happened yesterday. You -- in a question you had with Ambassador Sondland in response you had to something he said impromptu. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALONEY: Hold on, sir.
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Excuse me. I've been very forthright, and I really resent what you're trying to do. MALONEY: Fair enough. You've been very forthright? This is your third try to do so, sir. Didn't work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after, you remember that?
And now we're here a third time, and we've got a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There's a whole bunch of stuff you don't recall. So all due respect, sir, we appreciate your candor, but let's be really clear on what it took to get it out of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did you practice that? Because, I mean, that was -- was that impromptu? I mean, that was --
MALONEY: Well, of course it was. But -- and it was because he wouldn't answer a simple question, which was I think pretty obvious to all concerned, which is that all of this was done to benefit the President personally, politically. And that he was trading official acts or offering to, to get that personal benefit. That is the textbook definition of soliciting a bribe and Ambassador Sondland has that knowledge and I was getting a little sick of him dancing around it.
COOPER: He also -- Fiona Hill today really put Ambassador Sondland in the camp of Mulvaney, Giuliani, where is Sondland put himself sort in the camp of Volker and career foreign service officers of, well, we were just trying to break the logjam and, you know, advance U.S. interests, and we had to do deal with Giuliani.
MALONEY: Yes. I have no doubt that Ambassador Sondland sees himself as the hero in his own narrative. But what I can tell you is that it took a lot of other corroboration, a lot of other brave witnesses to put him in a box and to get the truth of out of him.
And even as we sit here, you've got people like Dr. Hill saying I knew it was -- Burisma meant Biden instantly, so did Tim Morrison, by the way, so did anybody with a Google machine. And somehow Ambassador Sondland wants us to believe that he never had any idea.
COOPER: And Ambassador Volker sort of has the same argument, didn't initially understand Burisma meant Biden.
MALONEY: I mean, I want to be clear. We are glad that both of those witnesses came forward and gave their testimony. And from what I can tell, we had reliable testimony by Ambassador Sondland, and he confirmed some critical pieces of this puzzle, so I am appreciative of that.
I do think there were some continuing gaps in his memory that raised some questions, but other witnesses, thank goodness, have filled them in, like David Holmes today who heard the President's voice talking about, you know, did they do -- did they agree to do the investigations, even though Sondland continues to conveniently not remember that. COOPER: Kevin McCarthy told CNN tonight he believes he isn't going to lose any Republican votes during impeachment, that he's actually going to gain votes from Democrats. Do you think that's the possibility?
MALONEY: I don't know, and I don't have a crystal ball on that. You know what I care about? I care about those of us in Congress try to demonstrate some of the same courage that guys like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman did.
I mean, the guy sat there and said -- telling a story about his dad leaving Russia where he would have been killed for doing this, said my dad got three of us in the military here. He believed in this country. We've all defended it and fought for it and in America right matters.
Well, here's hoping, right? And what is going to depend on is guys like Kevin McCarthy getting two feet out of his partisan game plan and trying to look at this with some perspective. I think any fair person looking at the facts and the evidence has to say, has to say at a minimum this is very serious conduct that is unbecoming any American president.
And if you really look at it, I think you would conclude that the President was clearly endeavoring to obtain a personal political benefit, trading official acts in the process. And you want to argue that that's not up to the level of impeachment? Well, you know, God bless you.
But it seems to me that the founders wrote bribery into the text of the constitution because like treason, it involves selling out your country for personal gain and selling out your honor at the expense of your country. I am sorry to tell my friends who continue to support the President that that's what happened here. And it's up to us in office to see it for what it is.
COOPER: Congressman Maloney, appreciate your time. Thanks for getting here.
MALONEY: My pleasure.
COOPER: Back now with our legal and political team. David, do you think the idea of losing some Democrats on this? I mean, do you think Kevin McCarthy is right here?
GERGEN: I think they might lose a few. I doubt it will be very many. I did think that Hurd on the Republican side, and going back to the point Scott Jennings made earlier, I think he represents what you may see more Republicans move in that direction. I thought while Hurd was talking when he first started, my god, he's going to break, you know. And then he swerved right at the last minute.
COOPER: Hurd has in the past, you know, gone farther than a lot of other Republicans.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, he's got up -- COOPER: I think he's not --
HENDERSON: Yes, he's got about an 80 percent rate of voting with this President. He's broken with him on serious stuff surrounding immigration. He's in a district, you know, that's turning. He won this last election by about 2,000 votes. He's obviously retiring because he probably couldn't win that seat again. But this is sort of classic Will Hurd.
You know, I sort of joking with David before the show that this is kind of what he does and he plays to people like David who think, oh, you know, this is going to -- you know, he's going to side with the Democrats and be something other than, you know, kind of a Republican that falls in line with his president.
But, again, he vote -- he didn't think that this inquiry was a good idea. So the idea that he would come down against this President knowing that he wants a future in the Republican Party I think was -- it was always unlikely.
COOPER: John Dean, when it goes to the judiciary committee, what actually happens?
DEAN: It's very interesting. It's a little different this time, because the House itself had to undertake the investigation that is normally taken by a grand jury, another investigative body, the Department of Justice. Here, the justice turned it down so the House Intel Committee undertook the Ukrainian investigation.
They're bringing that in. They already have the report of the special counsel. What are they going to do with that? That's got counts of obstruction of justice in it. No conspiracy. There is evidence of collusion. Are they going to merge that all together? Those are the decisions they have to make and see what comes out.
GERGEN: What if the press discovers new things over the next --
DEAN: They can bring them right out. They can hold hearings. They have -- yes, they have jurisdiction.
COOPER: So more witnesses can come in on the judiciary side?
DEAN: Absolutely, absolutely.
COOPER: How long do you it would -- I mean, I guess there's no way to know how long it would be in the judiciary committee.
DEAN: Well, I think they have a goal of trying to do it before the Christmas recess. If they -- if new evidence broke, I'm sure they go over to the New Year.
COOPER: And, David, then in -- when it moves over to the Senate side --
COOPER: -- it is a whole other kind of experience? I mean, it is all the senators there, all of them present, all sitting there, six days a week?
GERGEN: Right. And I think that the -- it was interesting the Republicans talking to the White House today and trying -- coming out basically as you reported, trying to limit this to two weeks, you know, for the trial. What I'm not clear is who speaks. Do you have an attorney on each side?
DEAN: The managers, the managers.
GERGEN: The managers, they make the case?
DEAN: Yes, they make the case.
GERGEN: How many managers are there on each side?
DEAN: There's a rule typically decides that, and the speaker will decide that, probably four or five or six.
GERGEN: Outside counsel? No outside counsel?
DEAN: The President can bring his counsel. I remember, for example, White House Counsel Charles Ruff did the closing argument for Bill Clinton, which was he rarely represents the Office of the President. So I was surprised to see him make that argument, but he made it in the context of the office.
COOPER: You're going to leave there it. We have more breaking news coming up, another CNN exclusive. An FBI official is under criminal investigation in connection with the 2016 campaign. We have details on that, next.
COOPER: We have more breaking news tonight, a CNN exclusive. Several people briefed on the matter tell CNN that a former FBI official is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to the 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser. The finding stems from the FBI's efforts to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
CNN's Senior Justice Department Correspondent Evan Perez joins us with details. So, Evan, explain what you've learned.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is a former attorney at the FBI, and this person was involved in helping prepare the application that was eventually approved by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, surveillance of Carter Page, who was as you remember one of the Trump campaign aides who was under investigation by the FBI.
It appears that during the course of preparing this work, this attorney altered a document that was used in the preparation of this FISA application. Now, we don't know a lot about exactly how this was done, but this was uncovered as part of the investigation done by the Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz. As you know, that report is coming out in early December.
And as a result of this, this is now a criminal investigation being handled by John Durham, the prosecutor that Attorney General Bill Barr appointed to do a more wider, broader look at what happened in 2016, looking at the intelligence that was brought in to the FBI's investigation of Russia meddling.
COOPER: Do you have any idea right now of how significant a role the altered document or the altered part of the document played in the FBI's investigation of Page?
PEREZ: Right. I mean, look, to a certain extent it's not knowable whether this alteration would have changed whether the application was approved, right? It's not -- you can't really undo this because if you remove it, you don't know what the judge would have done. But it is clear that this is actually a very important part of the investigation, right? And it's going to be something that certainly from a political standpoint is going to be very important for the President and his allies.
COOPER: But just to be clear, we don't know the nature of the alteration, whether it's changing a date or a material fact.
PEREZ: Well, the -- what we're told by several sources is that this -- it altered the meaning of the document. But we don't know, Anderson, whether it's such a substantive change that it would have meant that the application would not have been approved without it.
COOPER: Wow, which is obviously be an even bigger story. When is the report going to be released?
PEREZ: The report according to Lindsey Graham and Michael Horowitz is going to be released on December 9th. And as you know, the President and his allies, Anderson, have been flogging the idea of this report coming out because they believe that it's going to show that the FBI committed wrongdoing in this investigation, that essentially there was no reason for the President and his campaign to come under suspicion. So, look, I think it's going to be a highly politicized event whenever it happens.
COOPER: Yes. Evan Perez, more to learn. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Thanks very much. Up next, back to the impeachment story and perhaps the most hopeful fact about it that some of the most powerful witnesses are Americans by choice.
COOPER: We end tonight with something that Fiona Hill's attorney, Ambassador Lee Orlowski, referenced at the top of the program. The three immigrants we saw testify publicly the past two weeks, Dr. Fiona Hill, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch came to this country from either an oppressive regime or a harsh economic situation. The very huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Emma Lazarus wrote about and whom we say we want here.
These three found success in service to their new country. Now, they face accusations of disloyalty because they chose honor and country over all else. Here's today's witness, Dr. Hill, on questions about her loyalty and those of the others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIONA HILL, FORMER NSC SR. DIRECTOR OF EUROPE AND RUSSIA: I do not believe that my loyalty is to the United Kingdom. My loyalty is here to the United States. This is my country and the country that I serve. And I know for a fact that every single one of my colleagues, and there were many naturalized citizens in my office and across the National Security Council, felt exactly the same way. I think it's deeply unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, no doubt, knows just how unfair that is. He's faced innuendo and accusations of dual loyalty, that he has "an affinity" for his home country of Ukraine. One commentator floated the word espionage. And yet this is the message he had for his dad, who brought the family to the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, NSC TOP EXPERT ON UKRAINE: Dad, I'm sitting here today in the U.S. capitol talking to our elected professionals -- talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: America is his home, his chosen home. Their faith ultimately is in American principles of right and wrong. Marie Yovanovitch, another Soviet emigre was the first to testify. She was called bad news by the President in that July 25th call and was the target of lies and conspiracy theories by his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. That and that alone cost Yovanovitch her job. That shouldn't happen in America, but it does.
If there is any good news in all of this, it's that these people, these Americans, stood up and didn't cower. It is their model that best fits the final lines of that Emma Lazarus poem that adorns the Statue of Liberty. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
That's all from us. We'll be back at 11:00 Eastern for another live edition of "360." The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?